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Romney Bombshell? Struggling Campaign Plans "October Surprise"

A source reveals a strategy to make Obama seem weak on defense in campaign's final month.

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Giuliani added that the Obama White House wanted to dismiss the role played by al-Qaida because it seemed to diminish the triumph of having killed Osama bin Laden. “I think it’s because they have this narrative that they defeated al-Qaida,” he said. “They never say the words ‘Islamic fundamentalist terrorism’. They want to wish it away. The president was moving on to Asia – he was going to declare this a great victory for himself and unfortunately, this terrible act of terror intervened in their very convenient narrative.”

Likewise, Bob Corker, Republican senator from Tennessee, described the administration’s response to “the terrorist attack” in Libya as  “bizarre.” And on Sunday, Sept. 30, both Mitt Romney and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan joined in the attacks. “I think they want to do their very best to keep the people of America from understanding exactly what happened. We expect candor, we expect transparency, particularly as it relates to terrorism,” Romney said.

Added Ryan, “Why is he [Obama] not on the same page with his own administration officials who are saying that this is a terrorist attack? We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s a coverup or not.”

In an apparently related development, early October 1, at 4:45 am, The Daily Beast posted  an article asking “why did it take eight days for the administration to acknowledge the 9/11 attacks in Benghazi were acts of terrorism?” The report cited unnamed U.S. intelligence officers who referred to an intercept of monitored communications between members of a local militia in Libya which “suggest the assault was in fact a premeditated attack.”

In addition,  a Politico article posted last night said Romney advisers were divided over how aggressively to attack President Obama over his handling of the events in Libya. One unnamed Romney adviser described them as “a huge gift” to the campaign. “Across the board – domestic, economic and foreign-policy issues – President Obama has been outmatched by events,” he said. “He’s an observer of events, not a shaper of events. Everywhere you look, he’s been outmatched.”

But other Romney advisers, led by media strategist Stuart Stevens, wanted to stick to the economy as the central issue. “They’ll tell you that you’ve got to focus people on the fact that their economic prospects are not very good and all that,” the aide told Politico. “Well, Romney’s been trying to do that now since he clinched the nomination at the end of April — and he’s failed. The president is better at deflecting attention from the bad news than Romney is at driving home the impact of the bad news on individual voters.”

UPDATE (11:45 am EST):  A Sunday, September 30 Wall Street Journal  article by Romney himself suggests that the Karl Rove faction of Romney’s camp, led by neoconservative foreign policy adviser Dan Senor may have won out. “These developments are not, as President Obama says, mere ‘bumps in the road.’ “ Romney wrote. “They are major issues that put our security at risk. Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them.”

Coming just days before the presidential debates, which most observers thought would be focused on the state of the economy, Romney’s article strongly suggests he may well turn the subject to Libya.


Craig Unger is the New York Times bestselling author of "House of Bush, House of Saud," and a frequent analyst on CNN, ABC Radio, Air America, The Charlie Rose Show, NBC's Today Show and other broadcast outlets. He has written for The New Yorker, Esquire and many other publications and is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City where he is a Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at NYU's School of Law.

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